Posh v Crystal Palace 12th September 1960

Venue: London Road, Peterborough

Attendance: 21,171

Score: Peterborough Utd 4 v Crystal Palace 1

Referee: J.E. Carr.

It is difficult to describe Peterborough United’s wonderful victory against Crystal Palace at London Road. Their performance in the first half was “out of this world” and with a crowd of more than 21,000 fans packing the stadium this was a match which will long be remembered for excitement, entertainment, footballing skill and brilliant goals.

To take four points from this clever London side is an achievement in itself, but the way in which United went about the task of bringing off the double gave the football world something to think about and Posh supporters an occasion to remember for years to come.

Knowledgeable soccer journalists from the National newspapers who have travelled the world watching top class soccer agreed that United’s performance as a team was among the finest they have ever since.

To those of us who have watched Posh triumphs in the past it was a completely new experience. Never has such football been seen from a Peterborough side before. There were times when you felt sorry for Palace who were feeling the whiplash of a great team in action.

Yet it was an occasion made for greatness. Crystal Palace, widely acclaimed as the number one team in Fourth Division soccer, had not taken too kindly to a 2-0 defeat in the previous week and were more than anxious to obtain revenge.

A near record attendance sensed this, and so did United who not only had to deny Palace their revenge but in addition had to expunge memories of the disaster at Mansfield only two days earlier.

And so the stage was set for a thriller, and from the very first minute when Palace right winger Gavin blasted the ball over the crossbar from only three yards out United took a stranglehold on the game which was never shaken off.

Dennis Emery, playing much better than in any match this season, took a slide rule pass from Bly and proceeded to dribble round the goalkeeper only to see his centre across the unguarded goal headed out for a corner.

And it was Bly and Emery who constantly tore holes in the visitors defence with Hails and Smith working like terriers to mount attack after attack.

Palace played brilliant soccer in the midfield, but Posh let them get on with their fancy moves and then proceeded to outshine them with a quicksilver attack which carried everything before it.

Even Ripley joined in the shooting, but he could not be spared from the defence which played magnificently throughout to hold the Palace attack.

Many will not agree but the stalwarts of the defence were Ripley and Rayner. They had a gruelling time in midfield but were always on the spot when United funnelled back to halt the visitors on the edge of the penalty area.

After a quarter of an hour of scintillating soccer something was bound to happen – and it did.

The ever alert, ever watchful Bly chased a long pass down the right wing, cut in with the ball past two defenders and looked for a colleague to take his pass.

There was no one with him so he blasted home a scorching shot with his left foot which whipped into the net only inches inside an upright.

London Road very nearly erupted. But there was more to come. Walls saved a pile driver from Gavin and Ray Smith saw his shot knocked away by the goalkeeper. Then Hails raced round the defence to meet a lob from Bly on the run, cracking the ball so hard that it rebounded to safety from the crossbar.

And so to the 32nd minute and another great goal from Bly. Hails rounded the full back to get across an “impossible” centre, and the centre forward jumped forward to head an equally “impossible” goal and put Posh two up.

Three minutes later United’s centre forward headed the ball forward to Smith and Hails and the right winger snapped up the opportunity to nudge the ball home for the third goal.

Three nil at half time and United’s fans were near delirious with delight. Sadly but inevitably the tempo slackened after the interval. Posh still continued to play attractive football but it came as no surprise when Palace got a goal in the 56th minute through left winger Heckman.

Ellis Stafford prompted the attack to greater efforts by occasionally joining Hails for right wing moves, but all the forwards had a hand in United’s fourth goal.

McNamee started the move with a cross pass to Emery. The ball went via Smith to Hails who moved in to blast home a great shot on the run. The Palace goalkeeper stopped the ball on the line but could not hold it and Bly was on the spot to put it in the net.

Ten minutes from the end, pressure by United won them a penalty kick when Petchey handled a cross from McNamee. Smith’s first shot was saved but the referee ordered the kick to be retaken. Again the goalkeeper saved Smith’s kick.

This was the only disappointment of the evening but Posh were brilliant in everything else they did such a miss is easily forgiven and forgotten.

Receipts from the game reached a new record total of £2,600.


Posh: Jack Walls, Ellis Stafford, Jim Walker, Jim Rayner, Norman Rigby, Keith Ripley, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Terry Bly, Ray Smith and Peter McNamee.

Crystal Palace: Rouse, Lunnis, Noakes, Petchey, Long, McNichol, Gavin, Easton, Byrne, Summersby and Heckman.

Goals: Posh – Terry Bly (3) 16mins, 32 mins & 73 mins and Billy Hails 35mins. Palace – Heckman 56 mins.